Best Of Summer 2016

I have a funny relationship with fall. Throughout the final weeks of August I find myself dreading Labor Day weekend and the change of seasons. I'm not sure why this is, because once I've gotten over the transition and the trees start to change, fall is my favorite season. It's almost as if I need that signal from the trees; they know it's time for change before I do. Once those colors start to pop I relax and say, oh, you are right, I'm ready for fall.

One of the reasons I have a hard time giving up summer is because it is often filled with lots of travel, something that is harder to do during the school year since Evan is a teacher. During the summer months Evan works at the airport so we use his awesome flight benefits to visit family and spread our wings. Now that Evan has finished his first couple weeks back at school and we're working our way into new fall routines, I'm already nostalgic for all of our summer adventures.

So as one last hurrah and in order to officially bid summer adieu, I'm having a little award ceremony over here for the Best of Summer 2016! (corny, perhaps, but work with me.) Perhaps it will help someone plan a future trip - like a road trip to the best brewery in the country (IMO)! Or at least reflect on your own summer bests, wherever you spent them.

Best Meal: The Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Burlington, VT
Evan and I spent our first night away from Henry since he was born (!) while visiting my parents in Massachusetts. We drove a couple of hours up to Vermont, where we stayed at a B&B, did some biking and dined at The Farmhouse. I got the fried chicken with honey and brown-butter glaze, with a side of nitty gritty spoon bread (like a cross between cornbread, polenta and grits) and braised kale. Evan got a burger. I don't know if we were simply wooed by the food itself or if the novelty of eating without a toddler magically enhanced our taste buds, but we left that meal on a food-high, determined to recreate it at home. I'll let you know if I ever succeed.

Vantage Point

I peer down through the darkness to the coastline sketched below. Tiny towns and broccoli-sized trees remind me of a scene from a puzzle, huddled together along the shoreline of one of the Great Lakes. It's July 2nd and we're flying east towards Massachusetts to celebrate the Fourth of July with family in Cape Cod. The sun is just starting to set from our vantage point above the clouds but the families below us, already in shadow, are shifting into night mode, chasing fireflies and lighting bonfires.

Summer Buckets

It's been exactly 10 years since I graduated from college, but I can still remember my English professor as if he just stepped out of the room. We always questioned his age and wondered isn't it time to retire? Not because his lessons were lacking but because, when everything was factored in, he had to be in his 80s. Yet he still kept up with his daily morning jogging routine, treated his students to gifts from his faraway travels, and invited classes over for salsa dancing and dinner at the end of the semester. With all his energy, some might be tempted to say he was young at heart, but if you sat through a class where he broke down and shared how deeply he still missed his wife who passed years ago, or heard tales from his time served in Vietnam, you'd understand that the cliched phrase doesn't hold true.

2015: Let's Do the Numbers

It is January in Minnesota and the weather is finally acting like it. Mornings are bright and clear, sun dogs magically appear in the sky, and nose hairs have a habit of freezing the moment you step outside. Oh yea, the arctic temps have arrived. I’m not complaining though. As I’ve said before, there is an excitement that comes with winter that makes you feel a little extreme. You post SnapChat selfies as you warm up your car, feel like a dare devil just for pumping gas, and you assume ultimate bragging rights to your sister in North Carolina {or is that just me?}. But the other bonus of surviving January in Minnesota is that even a normal weeknight feels like a cozy holiday. A night perfect for reflecting on things, like New Years Resolutions and highlights of the year now past. And that’s exactly where I am right now, cuddled up on the couch with Henry’s new cow blankie and a laptop, ready to dive into photos from 2015. {Side note: Evan gave me a deadline of Jan 31 to get this post published because a year-in-review post in January is acceptable, but February? Definitely not.}
A couple years ago I started recording stats of our travels, because who doesn’t like to know how many Delta pretzels they ate, how many hours they spent in the air, and the number of trains hopped aboard? Well, that was before we had a kid. We continued to keep track of some travel stats this past year but we definitely didn’t count every last pretzel! (Although in hind-sight, I wish we’d counted in-air diaper changes). And overall we traveled less in 2015 than we did in our pre-baby 2013 run {go figure!}, with a focus more on family visits and smaller-scale trips.
Now, let’s dive into those numbers!

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